Seattle is a beyond–popular moving destination in the United States, and the reasons for that vary from the large number of tech companies in the area that provide high-paying jobs to the city’s amazing location and access to nature. Since the beginning of the decade, Seattle’s population has grown by 18%, according to US Census data. The city currently has a population of about 730,000 residents, while the greater Seattle area is home to another 3.5 million people.
With so many people moving to the area, there’s been a lot of talk about the pros and cons of Seattle. On one hand, you have the thriving job market, with homegrown employers such as Amazon and Microsoft plus many others – Facebook, Google, Nintendo and Boeing, to name just a few. Also, nature has been generous to Seattle – the unique location near the ocean and the mountain ranges that look over the city create countless opportunities for outdoor activities and unbelievably gorgeous panoramas.
On the other hand, there’s the famous, or, better put, the infamous Seattle weather and housing costs, seen by many as a deterrent for moving there. First things first: Seattle weather is indeed rainy and gloomy in the winter. Occasionally, there are a few weeks in a row when you don’t get to see the sun. But the actual average rainfall is moderate, because it rarely downpours in Seattle – rain there is more like a drizzle. Summer is pretty much perfect, dry and sunny from June to September, and the temperatures throughout the year are mild and comfortable.
Housing costs are indeed high. An apartment in Seattle rents, on average, for $2,122 per month, way above the national average of $1,471, according to RENTCafé. However, Seattle continues to be more affordable than cities like San Diego or Los Angeles, where the average monthly rent will set you back $2,228 and $2,556, respectively. Alternatively, to save money, you can get a small apartment and make up for the lost space by renting a self-storage unit in Seattle. A 10×10 unit in the city costs about $162 monthly, as per Yardi Matrix data.
It’s obviously very important to research things like jobs, housing or climate before moving. But other, less known and yet very interesting facts may create a more accurate and three-dimensional representation of what living in Seattle actually means. So, if you’re interested in the intricacies of Seattle living, here are some unusual, unique things about the city.
1. The Seattle Freeze
It’s a real phenomenon, but one totally unrelated to weather. It refers to native Seattleites’ tendency to give you the cold shoulder. Apparently, people born and bred in Seattle are not the friendliest bunch. 49% of them don’t want to have even a short conversation with people they don’t already know, says a survey by Pemco Insurance. Also, for 40% of Seattle’s natives it’s not important to make new friends. If you’re moving on your own, expect some difficulties in making a new circle of friends. For introverts, however, Seattle might be as close to perfection as they can find in the US.
2. Houseboat living
Seattle is the place to be if living on the water is your dream. The place has no fewer than 500 houseboats, more than any other city in the US, according to SeattleAfloat, a real estate firm specializing in this type of property. The lifestyle started with the founding of the city in the 1850s as a logging seaport town. Loggers and sailors built their own floating bunkhouses in order to save money on rent. In other words, houseboat living has been ingrained in the very DNA of Seattle since its inception. If you’re curious about experimenting with the lifestyle, you can rent a houseboat for a weekend.
Seattleites are kind of grumpy around new people, by they sure do love their pets. By all accounts, Seattle is a very pet-friendly place. Every park in the city is opened to dogs, as long as they are on a leash, and a good proportion of those parks also provide a section where you can let your dog run free. Pet-oriented businesses offer unique services, like the dog playground/bar combo called “Dogwood Play Park”. The Seattle Barkery sells tasty treats for pooches, and you can even order them a cake for special occasions. The Seattle Mewtropolitan – apparently, besides a love for pets, Seattleites also have a penchant for puns – is a coffee shop that allows you to enjoy your coffee surrounded by beautiful felines, in their cat lounge, or even to do a yoga session accompanied by them.
4. Plenty of movies and TV shows are set in Seattle
Some of those shows and movies are actually filmed and produced in the city, which gives a boost to Seattle’s flourishing media production industry, while others are only set in the city. According to the City of Seattle Office of Film and Music, more than 500 filming permits are issued annually, about 80% of them for commercials and 20% for films and TV shows. Around 5,000 local crew members work on those filming sets.
Among the most popular movies and TV shows set in Seattle are the long-running and very popular “Grey’s Anatomy,” the quintessential romcom “Sleepless in Seattle” and the recent Netflix show “The Killings”.
5. People are well-read and highly educated
Seattle has the highest percentage of population aged 25 and older with college degree – 63%, according to the US Census. Also, the Seattle Public Library system estimates that around 80% of the adults are library card holders. In 2018 alone, there were 5.2 million in–person visits to the Central Library and its branches and more than 12 million online visits.
6. More men than women
Gender imbalance exists in Seattle for ages 25 to 60, according to the US Census data, and it’s most likely due to Seattle’s tech-oriented jobs market that tends to attract more men than women. There are almost 43,000 men between 25 and 30 of age in Seattle and about 40,000 women in the same age bracket. Things look about the same for people between 35 and 40: 28,000 females to 30,000 males. So, keep that in mind if you’re a young, single person moving to Seattle – the chances of finding a partner are higher for women than for men!
7. First female mayor in the United States
Speaking of women, Seattle prides itself on having had the first female mayor of any US city. Bertha Landes, the 38th mayor of Seattle, was elected in 1926, after years of civic activism, and held the office until 1928. She ran on a law and order campaign and took a hard line against corruption. However, the city hasn’t elected another female mayor since then.
8. The troll under the bridge
The troll – turned to stone by daylight, obviously – hides under the Aurora Bridge in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. The 18–foot troll is a genuine celebrity and was featured in movies such as the Twilight Saga, Death Note and the already mentioned Sleepless in Seattle.
9. The Gum Wall
The city has what must be one of the germiest, most peculiar art projects in the world. It’s a brick wall covered in used chewing gum, in an alleyway in downtown Seattle. The wall is by the Market Theater box office, and patrons of the establishment started the tradition in the 90s by sticking their gum to the wall and placing coins in the blobs of chewing gum. The wall is covered in gum 15 feet high, 50-foot long, and inches thick in some areas. When local authorities cleaned the wall in 2015, to prevent further erosion to the bricks, they removed 2,350 pounds of gum. Since then, a lot more gum was added, and people create small works of art out of it.
10. The Official Bad Art Museum of Art
Unrelated to the artworks mentioned above, Seattle also has its Official Bad Art Museum of Art (OBAMA), located inside Café Racer. If you’re into hilariously bad art – dogs playing poker, monkeys wearing crowns or hotdogs dancing around on a field – this is the place for you. You can admire dozens of terrible paintings while enjoying the signature dish of Café Racer, another piece of art in itself: a grilled polish sausage split in half, with bacon placed inside, and served on a toasted bun spread with special sauces.
Hopefully this list of unusual Seattle facts and attractions will help you understand what living in this city full of charm and character truly entails and will make the decision about moving there – or not – a lot easier.